Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Invited Tutorial #344
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
It's a System!: The Essential Role of Behavior Analysis in Developmental Systems Theory
Monday, May 25, 2015
11:00 AM–11:50 AM
Texas Ballroom Salon A (Grand Hyatt)
Area: DEV; Domain: Theory
PSY/BACB CE Offered. CE Instructor: Susan M. Schneider, Ph.D.
Chair: Martha Pelaez (Florida International University)
Presenting Authors: : SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (University of the Pacific)

Try to picture all that's known about biology and behavior: Genes, epigenetics, neurophysiology, operant and respondent principles, hormones, history ... and much more. Like other sciences, ours has always been part of a grand interdisciplinary effort, and the biobehavioral system is large and complex indeed. Developmental Systems Theory attempts to encompass everything, including the many complex, nonlinear interactions across all levels. The operant principles in which behavior analysts specialize have proved to be an important part of the empowering flexibility in the larger system. Our work on the benefits of enriched environments, the causes and treatments for autism spectrum disorders, the surprising flexibility of "instincts," and rehabilitation for victims of stroke and traumatic brain injury, to name a few examples, are all part of much larger efforts. In turn, system interactions are critical influences on our own work. Scientists always knew a better understanding of the full nature-and-nurture system would bring surprises, and this tutorial will show how the reality has exceeded expectations.

Instruction Level: Basic
Target Audience:

Psychologists, behavior analysts, practitioners, and graduate students.

Learning Objectives:
  1. To describe developmental systems theory.  At the conclusion of the event, participants will be able to explain how DST encompasses the entire biobehavioral system, including many complex, nonlinear interactions across all levels. 
  2. To show how operant and respondent behavior principles play a critical role in developmental systems theory.  At the conclusion of the event, participants will be able to describe how behavior principles influence and are influenced by the other system variables.
  3. To show the philosophical similarities between behavior analysis and developmental systems theory, including for example anti-reductionism.  At the conclusion of the event, participants will be able to describe these similarities.  Participants will also be able to describe the value to behavior analysts of understanding and contributing to developmental systems theory. 
SUSAN M. SCHNEIDER (University of the Pacific)
Dr. Susan M. Schneider’s involvement in behavior analysis goes back to high school when she read Beyond Freedom & Dignity and wrote B. F. Skinner, never dreaming that he would reply. They corresponded throughout her master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Brown University, her engineering career, and her stint in the Peace Corps. At that point, Schneider bowed to the inevitable and switched careers, obtaining her Ph.D. in developmental psychology in 1989 from the University of Kansas. A research pioneer, she was the first to apply the generalized matching law to sequences and to demonstrate operant generalization and matching in neonates. Her publications also cover the history and philosophy of behavior analysis and the neglected method of sequential analysis. Schneider has championed the inclusive “developmental systems” approach to nature nurture relations, culminating in reviews in the Journal of Experimental Analysis of Behavior and The Behavior Analyst, and she has served on the editorial boards for both of those journals. Her book, The Science of Consequences: How They Affect Genes, Change the Brain, and Impact Our World, summarizes the field of operant behavior, its larger nature-nurture context, and its full range of applications. It earned a mention in the journal Nature, was a selection of the Scientific American Book Club, and won the 2015 Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis Award for Effective Presentation of Behavior Analysis in the Mass Media.
Keyword(s): genetics, interdisciplinary work, nature-nurture, neurophysiology



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